Hearing about the cabbage soup diet may have given you the idea that cabbage has some special weight-loss promoting capability, but any weight loss on this fad diet is from the very low calorie content, not the cabbage. However, red cabbage is low in energy density and provides significant amounts of vitamins A, C and K, so adding it to your diet may help make it easier for you to meet your micronutrient needs and feel full while consuming fewer calories.
Red cabbage is a low calorie food, with only 22 calories in a cup of raw shredded cabbage or one-half cup of cooked shredded cabbage. Due to its high water content, it shrinks in volume quite a bit when cooked. Almost all of these calories come from the 5.2 grams of carbohydrates in this serving of cabbage, but you'll also get 1 gram of protein. Red cabbage is basically fat free.
Foods low in energy density, like red cabbage, contain very few calories per gram of food. This makes them very filling, because you can eat a large amount without going over your recommended caloric intake. It is the total amount, or volume, of food that makes you feel full, not the amount of calories you eat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you eat red cabbage at the beginning of the meal, you'll be able to eat a smaller portion of more energy-dense foods like meat later in the meal because you'll likely be less hungry.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, such as red cabbage, may help you lose weight. A study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2007 found that people advised to consume at least 400 grams of vegetables and at least 300 grams of fruits per day lost more weight and improved their blood pressure levels more than study participants who were in the control group. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, then split the other half between whole grains and protein foods, which will help you increase your fruit and vegetable intake while eating less of the more energy-dense meats and grains.
Adding Cabbage to Your Diet
Make a vegetable soup containing red cabbage or make a slaw or other salad with shredded cabbage to start off your meal. Mix cabbage with apples or potatoes and vinegar and saute it on the stove for a nutritious side dish. Use cabbage slaw to top sandwiches, or make a main dish salad with chicken, carrots, spinach, peanuts and an Asian-style dressing.